Sussex v Warwickshire, Horsham, 1st day July 21, 2014

Cachopa settles into English life

Vithushan Ehantharajah at Horsham

Sussex 314 for 7 (Wright 89, Cachopa 84, Barker 3-57) v Warwickshire

On a day of national misery, maybe it was appropriate that more than 2,000 flocked to what turned into a club cricket love-in. At the picturesque Horsham Cricket Club, debutant Craig Cachopa, with the ever-empathic help of Luke Wright, gave the locals something to celebrate.

Having begun the summer looking only to flex his muscles in the Surrey Championship with Reigate Priory, Cachopa is now the owner of a two-year deal at Hove and a whole lot of admirers.

His 84 on Championship debut may have only come at a strike rate a touch over 50, but it is hard to remember a shot that did not find its way to the boundary. His half-century featured 12 of them; the first few scatty, the rest composed and demoralising, as Warwickshire, in the absence of any incisive movement through the air, occasionally veered from their lines and overpitched. He also had a bit of luck when, on 27, he edged Patel through to Tim Ambrose, who put the chance down.

It was last Christmas that Cachopa made the decision to come to England to learn something new and play a season of club cricket, making use of a Portuguese passport which he has through his father. Following the standard overseas club player protocol of cricket on the weekend and travel in the week, he was relaxing on a hotel bed in Paris when an e-mail came through from Chris Nash, who had been a teammate of Cachopa's over the winter for Auckland.

"He told me to get off my butt and come play some twos cricket," Cachopa recalled, also citing the prospect of playing at Arundel Castle as another pull to taking Nash up on his offer. Since then he has fallen for the family nature and developmental side of Sussex and is grateful to the club for the opportunity they have given him. If he were to play first-class cricket back in New Zealand again he would do so as an overseas player. For now, he will be back there for Christmas with the family and on the lookout for available spots, at the discretion of Mark Robinson.

So, what of his international ambitions? "The New Zealand thing is on the side," Cachopa said. "At the moment, I'm playing in England, as a local, and I'm trying to qualify to play for England."

In the end, the visiting attack were rewarded with four wickets in the evening session, for the concession of only 19 runs, through a host of errors that included Steffan Piolet stepping on his own stumps. In truth, it was no less than they deserved for persisting on this pitch.

As ever, the festival outground is a strange and wonderful place. Each county's variant is unique but all follow the same template. The scenery is turned up - all the way to 11 at Horsham - and the locals are in early, fighting for chair space from a flat plane vantage point that gives the players on the field a presence that is lost from stands (Boyd Rankin aside).

There was little swing on day one, as ball came onto bat nicely, allowing Nash and Luke Wells to put on 68 for the first wicket. With little help from the surface, Warwickshire could be accused of not bowling straight enough. When they did, the wickets came; Wells falling to an inside edge thanks to a brilliant catch by Tim Ambrose, Ed Joyce bowled off his inside edge by Barker, who went on to trap Nash lbw.

It was at that point that Wright joined Cachopa in the middle, with 120 on the board and 37 overs gone and the two went more or less stroke for stroke in a stand of 174. "I don't know if I'd be able to do that many times," Cachopa joked at stumps.

Wright's brutality suppressed this top class attack before it sparked to life when he fended at a vicious bouncer from Rankin. Rikki Clarke, running from second slip, took the catch at gully, but the umpire gave it not out, as Wright gestured to his shoulder and stood his ground. Naturally, verbals followed, as did further short-balls which were cheered wildly as they sailed harmlessly over Wright's head for a bye, before the next one went further, for four more.

When Wright was eventually dismissed, chasing a very wide one from Barker, Patel offered a sarcastic "great shot, mate!" Don't let the quaint setting fool you, this match is going to be a hard-fought affair.